BY JOANNA C. VALENTE
Editor's Note: This review originally appeared on the old site.
Reading a book I absolutely love doesn't come often.
Books are like people--they have their own personalities, bodies, & hearts. When I first met Bigfoot for Women (Orange Monkey Publishing, 2014) by Amy Pickworth, I was intrigued. Bigfoot poems? Sign me up. I was already on board before I even cracked the spine. Of course, once I opened the book, it was hard not to devour in one sitting.
I read it as if the book would disintegrate upon reading. What I mean is, I read it like nobody's business. Pickworth immediately draws the reader in, from the very first line: "This may be hard to believe but listen: / every word I'll tell you is true. He is..." (23). Bigfoot is ever elusive throughout the book, morphing from father to stranger to idea to metaphor. Like Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America, Bigfoot becomes a somewhat obscure symbol--a symbol of American life, of that elusive feeling that follows you around, but you can't quite articulate.
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Bigfoot looms over everything like a god whose presence is largely misunderstood, but ever present: "Or the idea that Bigfoot is out there / wandering around and we can't find him" (24). Our human need for answers, especially regarding and confirming our own existence come into play often: "Why / is it that we want Bigfoot to exist?" (25). Throughout the collection, Pickworth includes footnotes to youtube videos, articles, and references to writers and musicians (such as Maggie Nelson, Elliott Smith, and Patti Smith). The speaker is obsessed with searching for, and discovering, Bigfoot in the same way that she finds herself, in the same way the reader needs to embark on a journey of self-discovery.
The landscape appears to be quintessentially American--the scenery varies from eating in a Mexican restaurant to working a dull office job to sporting a Kmart dress and a bowl cut. Pickworth allows the book to be accessible, like American culture, yet ever complicated underneath the surface: "This is America: / You're driven out from where you're born / you make the best of it / as far from homes as you need to go / you die somewhere in between" (48).
If you do anything in life, read this book.
Amy Pickworth’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Apercus Quarterly; Black Tongue Review; CATACOMB; Dusie; Forklift, Ohio;The Great American Literary Magazine; H_NGM_N; Ink Node; New Ohio Review; Red Wolf Journal; Smartish Pace; and Two Serious Ladies. Her book Bigfoot for Women (Orange Monkey Book Award, intro by Matt Hart) was released in November 2014. Originally from Ohio, she lives in Providence, Rhode Island, with her husband and two children.